Neuroscience Major Builds Research Skills Through Johns Hopkins Medicine Internship

During her first internship experience as an undergraduate research assistant at Johns Hopkins Medicine, Ali Leiter '20 is quickly building her chops working in the lab and analyzing cancer cells.

Ali Leiter '20, Johns Hopkins Medicine



Internship title:

Undergraduate research assistant.

What I do, day to day:

This summer I have been interning in the retrovirus lab in the department of molecular and comparative pathobiology at Johns Hopkins Medicine. I’ve been researching and working with thyroid cancer and microRNA. The big picture of the project is to research how microRNA is involved when a cell becomes cancerous. Every day in the lab is different, and I am constantly learning how to do new procedures. I usually begin the day by passaging or splitting C643 cells, otherwise known as anaplastic thyroid cancer cells. This is done to keep cells growing and healthy to be used in various procedures and experiments. I also routinely perform western blots, BCA assays, RNA purification, RT PCR and qPCR with harvested cells. Most recently, I did RNA purification on a line of thyroid cancer cells. After procedures or experiments, I’ve been able to learn how to help analyze results to decide what the next steps should be.

Other internships:

This is my first internship. However, I definitely hope to continue doing research in the future.

Most valuable part of this experience:

The most valuable and useful part of this internship is being able to learn so much from so many different scientists and students working in the lab. I’m so grateful to be able to be so involved in lab work and research. I’ve been able to gain experience performing different laboratory techniques and procedures, in addition to learning more about cancerous cells and protein. I know that I will be able to bring back new knowledge and skills to classes at Dickinson.

Advice for students considering internships:

Find an internship that involves disciplines that you are most passionate about.

How this internship has helped me:

I believe that not only will I be able to apply what I’ve learned this summer to my classes and labs at Dickinson, but I’ll also be better prepared to conduct research outside of Dickinson.

Post-Dickinson plans:

After I graduate from Dickinson, I hope to continue doing research before applying to medical school.

Learn more about internships at Dickinson.


Published July 26, 2018